Amid rumors that the Tampa Bay Rays could soon shop utility man Ben Zobrist, the team has reportedly come to terms with a guy who could be inserted into a couple spots where Zobrist would have otherwise played most of his innings.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rays have agreed to terms with Asdrubal Cabrera, which definitely would add an interesting wrinkle to the infield trade market. Not only could the Rays shop Zobrist more aggressively, but they could also shop shortstop Yunel Escobar. Cabrera, 29, has seen his offensive production slip in the last couple years, but, although he was never a star defensively, he can play passable defense at second base or shortstop, which makes him more valuable.
Signing with the Rays is an interesting fit, and maybe the Rays are betting on some positive BABIP regression (Cabrera’s walk rate, strikeout rate, and ISO have been relatively solid the last couple years) that could turn Cabrera into a flippable asset. (UPDATE: Joel Sherman says it’s a one-year deal, which supports this suggestion. Could be a win-win if Cabrera bounces back, is flipped, and then isn’t tied to draft pick compensation.)
Or, as mentioned in the open, perhaps they’re simply looking for a modestly-priced replacement for Zobrist and/or Escobar, each of whom could be traded for prospects, or for a big league piece.
Or, maybe the Rays are simply trying to improve the team for 2015. Given Zobrist’s versatility, it’s not as if Cabrera couldn’t be accommodated without trading Zobrist.
Either way, I’d expect additional movement from the Rays soon enough if this signing goes through.